Agree on the goals for your meeting and get buy-in from senior management before proceeding with the planning phase
Often the goals of a meeting are unclear, leaving the planning team with little sense of direction which results in an unfocused agenda. Work with the appropriate team members to ensure that you are clear on the goals, objectives and have an overall budget assigned. Create a statement of work and get written sign-off before you proceed. Sometimes you may find that focusing attention on a written statement gives your team an opportunity to correct any misunderstandings about your meeting in advance of signing contracts, choosing speakers and picking venues. And as you work on your meeting, strong goals can keep you on track and assist in decision-making, while helping your meeting planner partner perform most effectively for you.
Find the right team and let them contribute
You’ve formulated a clear goal and obtained sign-off from the powers that be, but now you need action. When planning your next meeting, make sure your internal and external teams are comprised of people that can really contribute to your goal – and then let them!
The folks here at Meetings & Events USA agree with Mitchell Caplan, CEO of E*Trade Group: “To succeed as a team is to hold all members accountable for their expertise.”
No one person can possibly do everything best. Rather, we rely on each other to bring our top game to the table and to do this we encourage one another to attain merit in our areas of expertise. Our clients benefit because we’re able to provide outstanding results efficiently and consistently. We benefit because we know we can trust each other to meet each goal, so we’re able to concentrate on what we do best. Essentially, we’ve created a cycle of excellence.
Look at the big picture, but break tasks into manageable steps
Meeting planning is comprised of many small actions leading to the completion of the goal-the meeting itself or the result the meeting is to accomplish. Attention to these seemingly endless details can make the planning and implementing process run smooth just as forgetting one can cause the engine to seize. Don’t let yourself be overwhelmed – break everything down into manageable tasks and assign these tasks to that great team you’ve assembled. Internally we work from project management charts that help us ensure we’re on time and on budget and we take a step back every now and then to make sure we don’t get so lost in the details we’ve veered away from the target!
Don’t assume anything
The success of consistent, clear communication is directly related to the success of your event. Even if you’re not using groupware, it takes just a few minutes for every team member to periodically, on schedule, compile one e-mail to get everyone up to speed on their progress. Do not assume every one knows what’s happening and encourage open communication. The key is to eliminate the clutter of too many random e-mails so when urgent help is needed, the request is not automatically filed to review later because of the sheer number of messages sent.
Make sure that all binding agreements are reviewed by your attorney or legal staff
Most employees are not equipped to deal with contracts, agreements and the host of signed documents necessary to produce a quality meeting. While your meeting planning staff is well-versed in protecting your interests, make sure that you have consulted with your legal department or procurement group before signing legally-binding documents. The extra step will prevent problems down the road that could cause major roadblocks in producing a successful meeting.